So, pop superstar Justin Bieber had a small 10-second cameo in last Sunday's Simpsons episode, which seemed to disappoint everyone. Bieber fans didn't like it because it was too short, unbeliebers thought it was too long, and Bieber himself initially tried to suppress all evidence of it last year.
Perhaps wary of The Controversy, executive producer Al Jean attempted to deflect blame for it onto his boss, Matt Groening:
According to Jean, Groening requested that Bieber be worked into an episode. "I think he has a family member who was a fan," Jean says. "I think he's a fan, too. So he asked us to find a place to use him. I think [Bieber] had also met Matt and wanted to be on the show."
Matt Groening, a Bieber fan? It's possible, but Groening - a former music critic - is known for his eclectic music taste. He likes oddball rock & roll, Balinese gamelan music, and Romanian brass bands. He said pop music "usually sounds like the audio equivalent of CGI." He wrote a biography of The Residents. He's curated the All Tomorrow's Parties progressive music festival twice. He guest-edited an anthology of music writing. He's let indie bands Tender Forever and Electrelane hang out at his house. He's a big Captain Beefheart fan. He interviewed and was friends with Frank Zappa.
Nice try, Al.
To the surprise of no one, Simpsons showrunner Al Jean told Entertainment Weekly he'd like to see the show continue past the 25 seasons guaranteed by Friday's re-negotiation deal:
"I honestly think that 30 is a goal to shoot for. I want to put The Simpsons at 30 seasons before the end of the decade," he quips, nodding to John F. Kennedy's moon speech. "Forty sounds insane, but 25 sounded insane 20 years ago. Having seen how far it's gone, it's not for me to cap it... And Gunsmoke did 635 episodes [a record for a prime-time series], so that's something to shoot for, too."
Even though he's supposedly quipping, keep in mind he can recite how many episodes Gunsmoke did off-hand. Please, nobody tell him about the animes.
Executive producer Al Jean, November 29, 2010:
THR: Will there be a third chopper gag?
Jean: I think at that point you're becoming stale. I believe that something is only funny twice.
The Simpsons, December 12, 2010:
Al Jean, executive producer and current showrunner:
"Nobody's perfect," Mr. Jean said in a telephone interview. "But I don't think we have terrible secrets to hide."
John Ortved, author of The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History:
The story ran in the August 2007 issue, and by the fall I'd signed on with Faber and Faber to expand the material into a book. When word of this got out, [executive producer James L.] Brooks sent a letter to every current Simpsons employee, and all the former ones he thought mattered, asking them not to speak to me. The writers' agents sent denial after denial for interview requests and eventually stopped responding altogether. When I asked a mutual acquaintance to put in a query with Ari Emanuel, chief of the Endeavor agency (now WME Entertainment) - where many of the Simpsons writers were represented - Emanuel told my friend he couldn't even begin to talk about it. James L. Brooks was on the warpath.
After twenty years on the air, it should be hard to come up with fresh, new ideas for the show, right? Not so, says executive producer Al Jean:
If you look at The Daily Show, which is obviously on daily, I mean, they're still hilarious after ten years. And we're only on weekly, so we really have the liberty of picking and choosing the ideas that we turn into episodes. The world is a very interesting place and The Simpsons is a great way to view it.
See, The Daily Show
comes on four times a week and it's hilarious. Well, what if you took only the best parts of those four episodes and crammed them into one episode a week? That would be four times as hilarious, and that's what The Simpsons
is, supposedly. [TV Squad]
In the opening of the upcoming annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode, Homer attempts to vote for Barack Obama, remarking that "it's time for change," but his EVIL ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE marks it as a vote for John McCain. A scuffle ensues, and the machine ends up killing him. (SPOILER ALERT: The previous two sentences may have contained spoilers).
In an eerie parallel, Al Jean has entered his eighth consecutive season of running the show, more than any other showrunner's "term of office" in the show's history. If his two years co-running the show with Mike Reiss during seasons 3 and 4 are taken into account, Jean will have been a showrunner for half the show's run by the end of this season. Is it time for change? Even Homer thinks so. [Wonkette]
Was the scene in "Brush With Greatness" where Ringo Starr personally answers 25-year old fanmail based on real life? It certainly seems that way, as the former Beatle has kindly asked his fans not to send him any more mail after October 20th. Does this mean he expects to die in late 2033? Developing... [AV Club]
Is executive producer Al Jean hepped up on goofballs, or is he just reading off a generic press release? Read this in a stoner voice and decide for yourself:
Jean recalled the magic of making the first full-length episode, The Simpsons' Christmas Special. "That show - wow - it was one of the best things," said Jean, who has served as the show's head writer and, since 2001, its executive producer... "It had emotion, humor - it was just beautiful," Jean recalled... "A lot of times, we first think about who we would like to meet and then write a character for them," he said. "The show has had a lot of success in getting people to come on." When asked for some his favorite celebrity performers, Jean immediately ticks off names: "Well, Phil Hartman, of course. Kelsey [Grammer] has been great. Jon Lovitz is really amazing. Eric Idle was great. We even had George and Paul and Ringo from the Beatles... It was very exciting when Liz Taylor came on to do Maggie's voice. She said one word, 'Daddy,'" Jean recalled. "Ms. Taylor had a little dog - and a ring bigger than my fist. It was all very 'movie star.'"
IMPORTANT NEWS DISCLOSURE:
A publicist for parade.com sent me an e-mail and asked if "[I] could make this announcement on [my] website and include a link to Parade.com" [Parade]
You know those episodes I executive produced? Yeah, they're some of the best ones ever. Not really that surprising if you think about it. I'm pretty much the King Midas of the show. I know it looks like I'm bragging but I'm actually being quite modest here. [IGN]